Seen+Noted: Rip Curl launches The Virtual Pro – the world’s first virtual surfing competition

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Rip Curl is changing the surfing landscape by introducing and launching the world’s first virtual surfing competition – the Rip Curl Virtual Pro, presented by Tourism Fiji and developed by VMLY&R.


For the inaugural Rip Curl Virtual Pro surf competition, participants didn’t even know they were competing. When Rip Curl Search GPS smartwatch users logged a session during the 10-day competition, their surf data was automatically entered. Data logged was analysed and scored by a unique algorithm based on five key criteria: distance paddled, surf time, total waves surfed, top speed, longest waves and the number of surfs, culminating in a final score.

The data sets formed the basis of a unique visualisation that contestants could download as a video and share with their social communities – pitting their surfs against others. Once they did, they were in it to win it. The winner and four mates (yet to be announced) will receive the surf trip of a lifetime to Fiji.

Says Jake Barrow, group ECD, VMLY&R Australia: “Brands are always searching for ways to utilise data. The Rip Curl Virtual Pro is something with meaning that connects with surfers and leads to more engagement with our product. I love that any surfer who participates can effectively surf against mates, strangers or even the pros.”

The first-ever Rip Curl Virtual Pro was made possible due to Rip Curl’s innovative Search GPS technology, allowing surfers worldwide to plan, capture, and relive their surfing activity (privately or with friends) on their devices.

Since VMLY&R worked with Rip Curl to build the initial Search GPS in 2014, the technology has tracked over 50,000 surfers across 76 countries, recording a massive 25 million waves surfed across 2,400 beaches.

The next round of the Rip Curl Virtual Pro will be open to the public, offering non-professional surfers the chance to compare skills with other amateurs and pros from all around the globe. As well as track their progression and share their surfs in a visually beautiful and digital way. Much like the professional WSL circuit, each Virtual Pro will focus on a key surfing destination, sending the winners to some of the best breaks around the globe.

Says James Taylor, head of brand and marketing, Rip Curl: “Aligned with our vision of being ‘the ultimate surf company, the development and launch of our GPS Watch technology was a pinnacle moment for Rip Curl and the launch of The Rip Curl Virtual Pro is another display of leadership in a rapidly changing surfing landscape.”

The competition comes after a notable increase in surfing participation globally. The International Surfing Association reports that the number of surfers worldwide has increased by 25% over the past decade, with more than 35 million people now enjoying the sport.

Says Srishti Narayan, head of global marketing, Tourism Fiji: “We’re thrilled to bring the second part of our partnership with Rip Curl to life and align with a brand bringing an innovative lens to surf culture. The Virtual Pro is a truly unique competition, and we can’t wait to see winners in the ultimate surf destination, Fiji, later this year.”

Seen+Noted: Rip Curl launches The Virtual Pro – the world’s first virtual surfing competition Seen+Noted: Rip Curl launches The Virtual Pro – the world’s first virtual surfing competition Seen+Noted: Rip Curl launches The Virtual Pro – the world’s first virtual surfing competition

Client: Rip Curl
Head of Brand & Marketing – James Taylor
Chief Customer Officer – Michael Scott
Membership Manager – Sam Hopgood
Head of Content – Zoë Neilson
ANZ Brand & Marketing Manager – Angus Forrest
Digital Producer – Lucy Hinneberg
Marketing Production Manager – Johnny Hawken
Content Creation Manager – Emily Vines

Client: Tourism Fiji
Head of Global Marketing – Srishti Narayan
Global Marketing Specialist – Anaseini Bakaniceva

Creative Agency: VMLY&R
Chief Creative Officer – Paul Nagy
Chief Strategy Officer – Ali Tilling
Group Executive Creative Director – Jake Barrow
Creative Director – Jack Delmonte
Lead Creative – Mick Pollard
Managing Partner – Katherine Chen
Senior Digital Project Manager – Julie Galinas
Strategy Director – Clancy Walsh
Account Director – Charissa Martin
Executive Producer – Rachel Rider
Integrated Producer – Maddison Fricker
Lead Editor – Alek Janev
Editor – Opie Sayner-Hassall
Design Director – Elliot Owen
Head of Design – Lewis Brown
Designer – Brock Willis
Head of Experience Design – Mark O’Brien
Data Director – Vipul Hiray
Creative – Zander Williment

Lukasz Karluk – Technical Director
Alex Neville – Digital Producer
Conner Meehan – Creative Developer
Milosz Karluk – UI Designer